Posted by: mydarkestplaces | September 5, 2013

More historiography

So, it’s morning and I once again find myself sitting, reading about Stalin, his crimes and, holy cow, dude was scary. The book I’m currently working my way through is Stalin’s Genocides by Norman Naimark, published in 2010.

So I know in the past I’ve talked about historiography, that is the study of how history is written. I feel this is important in general, and when looking into Soviet history in particular.

This, of course, has a point. Well, okay, if you’ve held a conversation with me…ever…you know there’s not really an “of course” about it. But this time I promise it’s true.

In the chapter I’m reading right now, “The Making of a Genocidaire,” Naimark is discussing where the heck Stalin came from and how exactly he became one of the greatest psycho-/sociopaths ever. This is all super interesting to me. I mean, obviously, but reading through not just the text of the chapter but the endnotes, I am struck by the varying sources that Naimark used to generate his early biography of Stalin. What it makes me want to do is trace his sources back to the beginning. After my experience reading Edvard Radzinsky, where he wrote a book based on a lot of hearsay (“this person I talked to in the hall of the archives said it so it must be true”), I’m wondering who or what the root source is for these books – not just Radzinsky, but Naimark (Conquest, Tucker, etc. etc.).

Moral of the story: I spent a lot of time wanting to be an archaeologist. And an historian. Perhaps, through my incessant curiosity about Stalin and wanting to find out the really-reallys of Stalinist Russia, I’ll get to be both.


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